Professional athletes can be inspiring communicators, but often their technique doesn’t apply to the rest of us.  In his press conference after the Buck’s exit from the NBA playoffs, Giannis Antetokounmpo does a lot of wonderful things.  He seems human.  He puts the loss in context. He doesn’t take the bait on the “failure” question.  He doesn’t directly repeat the negative as a lead-in and sound defensive (This season was NOT a failure).  

But his job as a communicator has one main goal - satisfy Bucks fans. Sports (and politics) are take-sides games.   “So why are you asking me that question?”, he told a reporter. This is a ridiculous way to frame the question, he seems to be saying. He’s playing to fans.  A certain politician does this as well, using journalists as punching bags for the delight of his fans.  

Giannis' technique here - to turn it back on the reporter - “if you don’t get promoted every year, are you a failure?” is super satisfying.  He gets our empathy.  We are on his side.  But it wouldn’t work for most of us. 

Most of us are guests on a reporter’s show or a guest appearance in a reporter's article.  Antagonizing them doesn’t serve our purpose.  It serves Giannis’ purpose – making him the philosopher and letting him spin the loss.  And yes, Giannis apologizes - “I don’t want to make it  personal”. But he did make it personal.  If you loved this answer for its content and clever distraction, that’s great. 

Just don’t assume the direct call out of a reporter would work for you. 

Anne  Dickerson

Anne Dickerson

Senior Partner

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